Both Sides of the Aisle

Gadsby & Hannah Goes Bi-partisan

It became apparent by the mid-sixties that Gadsby, Hannah, Colson & Morin was “too Republican.” Several of their clients, including Grumman’s Lew Evans, told them they should get a high-profile Democrat in the firm. It turned out that, at that very moment, Lynch’s pal Dick McGuire was looking for a place to hang his hat – if he were to join, he would add the Democratic powerhouse to the firm. Dan Lynch brought Dick into the office, and they chatted for a long while. Colson had done a good deal of work with McGuire while representing the New England Council. McGuire was very close to the entire Democratic leadership, especially Tip O’Neill, who was then chairman of the House Rules Committee. Due in large part to Lynch’s relationship with McGuire, he was eager to join the firm, but he said he wanted to bring in a lawyer from New Orleans named Merrigan with him. How could they say no?

Morin and Colson reviewed the scenario over a few drinks. Now how would they name the firm? Merrigan wanted his name in it, McGuire too. They came to a practical solution. They were running the firm – who cared what the name of the firm was? So they agreed – they both dropped their names, and the firm became Gadsby, McGuire, Hannah, and Merrigan. Befitting their new powerhouse image, they moved into penthouse offices at 1700 Pennsylvania Avenue, perhaps the most prestigious address in the District, looking out at the White House next door.

In 1968, Florida Senator George Smathers retired from the U. S. Senate. Smathers was elected in 1950 after Harry Truman recruited him to run against Claude Pepper, who had been part of a cabal that attempted to dump Truman from the 1948 ticket. He beat incumbent Pepper soundly, but the race is most famous for a speech Smathers apparently never gave. Smathers was alleged to have given a speech in rural Florida that went something like, “Are you aware that Claude Pepper is known all over Washington as a shameless extrovert? Not only that, but this man is reliably reported to practice nepotism with his sister-in-law, and he has a sister who was once a thespian in wicked New York. Worst of all, it is an established fact that Mr. Pepper before his marriage habitually practiced celibacy.” No one could prove that he ever said these things, but it has become part of political lore.

Smathers was a friend of Merrigan, and landed at 1700, where business was rolling along stronger than ever.

But not all was fine in the penthouse. Merrigan and Colson did not get along at all. Merrigan was very high-strung and had a ferocious, uncontrollable temper – a brilliant lawyer, and a New Orleans gentleman, except when he got mad. Colson couldn’t resist goading him, and eventually Merrigan had had enough of Colson and left.

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The Mutual Fund Business Explodes

By 1967, due in large part to Morin’s reputation, the firm had been retained to represent the ten largest mutual fund organizations in the country (Keystone, the United Fund, Fidelity, Mass Investors Trust, to name a few) against the SEC’s attacks. The SEC’s offensive, and Morin’s defense of the industry, would eventually culminate in the passage of Investment Company Amendments Act of 1970.

At the same time, there was a ferocious battle going on between the banks and the mutual funds. Banks wanted the rules of their common trust funds relaxed so they could take fees from them and still be exempt from registration with the SEC (giving them a competitive advantage over the mutual funds). One of their most important allies was James Saxon, who was Comptroller of the Currency at the time. Saxon’s top priority as Comptroller was to expand the national banking industry and to liberate national banks from regulation he determined to be unduly burdensome, putting them in direct competition with the mutual funds. During his first year in office, Saxon approved 434 new bank charters, compared to the 237 charters issued in the previous decade.

Five years earlier in February 1962, Saxon had appointed an Advisory Committee of 24 bankers and lawyers to review the findings of a survey conducted with national banks. The committee published its findings the following September in a volume entitled National Banks and the Future. With these recommendations as a foundation, Saxon permitted national banks to engage in businesses they had previously been denied entry to, including the sale of insurance, revenue bond underwriting, and the issuance of credit cards.

These developments exacerbated the disputes between the two industries, to the point where the Investment Company Institute (then called the National Association of Investment Companies) brought a lawsuit against Citibank and the other major national banks to enjoin them from conducting these forms of business. It was a very, very bitter fight between mutual funds and national banks, with billions of dollars at stake.

Saxon was one of Dick McGuire’s cronies in the government. In 1967, he was preparing to leave the Comptroller’s office and enter private business.

Morin received a call one day from Wilfred Godfrey, the chairman of the Keystone Funds. Godfrey, a hard-nosed, crisp Welshman and CPA by training, was calling from Paris.

“Mr. Morin?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Say it isn’t so.”

“What isn’t so?”

“I’m reading in the Herald-Tribune here in Paris that Jim Saxon has become a member of your firm.”

Who?

“James Saxon.”

Morin said emphatically, “No way is he a member of this firm, or ever will be.”

“Well I’m pleased to hear you say that, because obviously our relationship is at an end if he becomes involved in your firm.”

And Morin assured him there was no truth to it, and promised him he would find out how the report had come to light.

Morin and Colson went straight to McGuire, who confirmed that, without consulting either Morin or Colson, he had told Saxon, “I’ve got an office for you, you make the announcement.” So Saxon announced to the press that he was joining the firm.

Colson let McGuire know there was no way that Saxon was coming into the firm.

McGuire said, “it’s Saxon or me.”

Colson said, “It’s you then – good luck!”

And McGuire left, joining with Saxon in a venture that failed in short order.

With McGuire and Merrigan gone, Colson and Morin were once again faced with the name change issue, which they resolved once and for all. The firm would simply be called Gadsby & Hannah, no matter who came or left. And that is the way it remained, even decades after both Morin and Colson had left, until the firm merged with McCarter & English in 2006.

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Growth Spurt

With a rapid growth in new legal business during the latter part of 1960, the firm had to expand. By early 1961, the firm had about twenty-six lawyers, evenly split between Boston and Washington. Much of the workload entailed representing several Boston-based securities underwriters who were busy doing “Regulation A” private securities offerings, which had recently been authorized by the S.E.C. The firm had also picked up the New England Council as a client. The Council served as a business lobbying group for New England based companies, and Colson did their political work while Morin began to pick up corporate work from the Council’s individual members.

One day in January of 1961, Congressman Morse called Morin and informed him that Edward Gadsby, then the Chairman of the SEC, was going to resign following John F. Kennedy’s inauguration. Gadsby was a country lawyer from Williamstown, MA – a Renaissance man; described by Morin as “a lovely, gentle guy.” He had planned to retire to Williamstown and open a small law office there, but Morse suggested to him that he join Colson & Morin, where he could hang his hat in Boston and have a presence in Washington too. Brad told Morin, “you two guys have exactly what he wants!”

Gadsby met with Colson and Morin in their Washington office, assessed their operation, and quickly discerned that the atmosphere in their operation was appealing to him. They broke up the meeting agreeing to talk again soon.

At the end of the day, Colson and Morin were ruminating over cocktails about the prospect of having the former Chairman of the SEC join their firm, and they began to wonder aloud, would he be offended if they suggested his name come first? While most lawyers would jump at the chance, they had pegged Gadsby as a humble country gentleman, and they were concerned that he might think they were trying to trade on his name.

A short while later, Colson invited Morin and Gadsby out to his suburban Virginia home for dinner, and during cocktail hour they began to discuss their potential law firm. Gadsby appeared somewhat uncomfortable to the partners, until after some prompting from Colson, he said, “You know, I’m very easy to please,” and he hesitated further, and continued, “you guys have done so well together and you’re obviously close friends, but the only thing I would suggest to you is that perhaps my name should come first.” Colson looked at Morin and shrugged, and Morin said to Gadsby, “that would be fine with us.”

By 1963, Gadsby, Colson & Morin had quadrupled in size, with offices in Boston, Washington and Ponce, Puerto Rico; and Morin that year moved his family from Hillside Avenue in West Newton to a beautiful historic colonial mansion on five acres in the heart of Wayland.

That same year, Morin received a call from Paul Hannah. He had been general counsel for Raytheon for a long time, and he was looking for a small firm to which he could bring along Raytheon as a client. Hannah met with the three partners and it was quickly agreed that he would be a welcome addition to the firm. Hannah was a very good corporate lawyer with a great deal of prestige and a bit more seniority (he was ten years older than Morin, 19 more than Colson). Hannah suggested that his name head the firm, but Morin promptly informed Hannah that they had promised Gadsby that his name would remain at the head of the firm. So it became Gadsby, Hannah, Colson & Morin.

“Edificaciones”

It may seem unusual that a fledgling law firm in Boston would open a law office in Ponce, Puerto Rico. It is a story worth telling in Morin’s own words:

It all started in 1960 — a year of momentous events. Kennedy beat Nixon and became President. Leverett Saltonstall was reelected Senator from Massachusetts. Chuck Colson (who had managed Saltonstall’s campaign) and I decided to form a law firm. I met Pat Wilson.

Early that year Chuck called to ask for advice. He had been called by a young lawyer in Puerto Rico who wanted to know from Senator Saltonstall who was the number one constitutional lawyer in Boston. Sensing new business, I said “I am.” “Be serious,” Chuck said. “All right,” I said, “he’s on the faculty of the Boston University Law School, and his name is Bob Kent. Now, what’s it all about?”

What it was all about was, at the moment, Pat Wilson. Pat was a young lawyer from Idaho City, Idaho, who had graduated from Notre Dame and Georgetown Law School, had met and married a young lady from Puerto Rico who was attending Visitation Convent, a very exclusive Catholic girls’ school in Washington, D.C. After graduation and admission to the D.C. Bar he had set up a law practice in Ponce, Puerto Rico with a local lawyer named Charles Cuprill.

Pat Wilson’s wife, Adriana, was the daughter of Mario Mercado, a wealthy Puerto Rican sugar planter of meticulous Spanish descent. “Don Mario,” as he was universally known, was a true aristocrat — tall, strikingly handsome in his seventieth year, always dressed in starched cotton cord suit with starched white shirt and dark blue (sometimes red) cravat and a belted 38-caliber revolver holster (usually empty) on his thigh. One of the largest sugar growers in Puerto Rico, he lived in a magnificent hacienda high on the hills overlooking the south shore of Puerto Rico and the blue, blue Caribbean. “Magnificent” that is, until the Commonwealth Oil Company decided to take advantage of the Puerto Rico Industrial Development Act and the deep harbor facilities offered by Puerto Rico’s south coast and to build a state-of-the-art oil refinery only a few miles from Don Mario’s castle. Also, up-wind from Don Mario where the prevailing southerlies never let up in their depositing of large amounts of black, oily soot spewing out of the refinery into Don Mario’s immaculately white aerie — crystal chandeliers and ivory Oriental rugs included.

Don Mario’s hatred of the Puerto Rico Industrial Development Authority and his distrust of the government in general was, therefore, well-developed even before the authority decided to exercise its right of eminent domain to designate 40 hectares of Don Mario’s sugar cane for future factory construction and “industrial development.” Now, this was no great loss to the Mercado empire in terms of acreage. But the Authority itself — no great Mercado lover to be sure — singled out the 40 hectares which were so fertile and generous to cane cultivation that, two hundred years before, the pioneers of this industry had laboriously constructed an intricate network of wood-lined irrigation ditches to capture the pure rain water from the mountains to the north and channel it into the first of Puerto Rico’s sugar cane farms. So choice was the land, in fact, that for generations (including Don Mario’s) this 40 hectares was used for “seed cane” — that is, for developing strong, healthy supplies of cane for transplantation to and proliferation in the vast commercial fields of southern Puerto Rico. In other words, the Governor of Puerto Rico had decided to show the Mercado dynasty who was boss by putting Don Mario out of business.

It was this series of events which eventually, and circuitously, brought me to Puerto Rico as an authority on Constitutional Law, to examine the possible remedies available to the Mercados against the government of Puerto Rico. After considerable study I concluded that if I were successful it would cause the destruction of the then-blossoming, immensely successful and wildly popular program of industrial development of this small Commonwealth known as “FOMENTO” and reduce Puerto Rico once more to a poor agricultural economy dominated by the sugar planters whose principal export was rum.

But I am ahead of myself. To arrive at this stunning conclusion required what can be described only as an “odyssey.”

My first step was to sign up for Spanish lessons at Berlitz in Boston. I had a Panamanian teacher named Roberto. Lessons were two hours, twice a week. I soon learned that Roberto was a (social) beer drinker and it soon occurred to me that I was the last student of the day (4 to 6 p.m., as I recall), and that the Ritz Carlton Hotel was almost directly across Boylston Street (Clarendon ?) from the Berlitz studio. Thus, if I treated Roberto to a couple of beers at the Ritz bar after lessons (and myself to a couple of tongue-loosening dry martinis) I could get another hour or so of relatively cheap Spanish lessons. I learned the words for pencil, pen, paper, window, door, etc. and how to ask and answer certain questions (like,”what color is the pen?”), but by far the most important word I learned was that for “building”: “edificio.” Why, you will soon understand.

Soon it was time to practice law. Step number one was, of course, to read carefully the enabling statute itself, to examine the actual extent of the statutory authority to take private property — as well as the intent of the legislature in enacting the laws permitting it. And, indeed, the language was clear, and the power did exist in the Puerto Rico Industrial Development Authority to acquire private property by eminent domain to the extent reasonably necessary to fulfill the intent of the legislature. But there were some exceptions set forth in the statute, obviously generally intended to make it clear that the Authority was established to create employment, but not at the expense of existing businesses. But the language was strange, I noted.

The exception was described in the statute as applying to “any building wherein was being carried on a bona fide industrial commercial or agricultural enterprise.” “One does not carry on an agricultural enterprise in a building,” I reasoned. On the other hand, I was aware that very large expropriations of sugar fields had been accomplished in the areas east of San Juan for the construction of small factories and assembly plants, and that the local courts had sustained the takings as being authorized by the statute and not effectively excepted.

Still, I was not satisfied that the statute I was reading was at all consistent with that conclusion. And then it suddenly dawned on me that the law had originally been passed in Spanish and I was reading the English translation. And a very cursory bit of research reminded me that a basic principle of statutory interpretation is that the language of statutory origin governs.

With the help of Pedro Perrata’s law clerks I now delved into the Spanish language enabling statute and there — staring at me — was a word I did not know — “edificacione” — which had been translated in the English version as “building.” Oh, Roberto, thank you, Roberto! Somewhere along the course of my Berlitz foray I had learned that the word for “building” is “edificio.” What, then, did “edificacione” mean? Now, I am excited. Remember the irrigation ditches and the dams? What did the legislature intend? Am I on to something?

It is moments like this that have made the practice of law so exciting for me — so much fun. To tackle a problem, to think, to reason, to turn every stone, to discover! And then to pursue. I knew in the back of my mind what I hoped “edificacione” meant. And if I could prove it, I could imagine what it would mean — far beyond Don Mario’s seed cane!

All of this “research” had been carried on in the dark, dark roadside offices of Pedro Perrata which, if it had nothing else, had lots of books in various stages of neglect and obsolescence. (“Pocket parts,” for example, had been accumulated for years without filing, rendering the original volumes all but useless as a research tool. Mertens‘ definitive 20-volume treatise on federal income taxation which you would expect to find only in a serious practitioner’s complete tax library, had not been updated for the four years since its purchase — and there were literally piles of unfilled updated “pocket parts” and new volumes on the floor of the tiny “library” of this one-man shop.) So, it was time to move on.

The night of my “discovery” I briefed the taciturn Pat Wilson on my progress. He was only mildly interested but, more importantly, he remembered vaguely that the Puerto Rico legislature had only very recently begun to keep a sort of “Congressional Record” of its sessions. The next morning we were on our way to San Juan to see what the government had to offer. Maybe somewhere in Spanish we would find out what the legislature had in mind when it used the work “edificacione” instead of “edificio.”

Pat had remembered correctly. And during that fateful year, when it created the Puerto Rico Industrial Development Authority, transforming Puerto Rico’s future forever after from a purely agricultural/tourist economy into one basically dependent upon commerce and industry, the legislature had begun to make a daily record of its proceedings — the “Diario Secciones.” And with very little effort we came to the day when the Committee on Agriculture and Industry had brought its land-taking bill to the floor to explain on the record (diario) the nature of the exceptions set forth in the statute. Although the explanation did not explain the meaning of “edificacione” other than simply repeating it, it did make clear that the government was not meant to take jobs to create jobs. Etched in my mind is the phrase “es decir” used by the Committee Chairman in explaining the exception. “Es decir” (that is to say — or, “in other words” the power of eminent domain was to be used to create employment where none exists, but not at the expense of enterprises already being carried on. I really had all I needed to mount an attack on the Mercado expropriation. But my target was the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, presided over by the brilliant Calvert Magruder.

I reasoned that the Court of first jurisdiction here would have to be the local Puerto Rico Court which could be depended upon to side with the government no matter how compelling the argument. But under the then-prevailing procedural rules an appeal from that court was not to a Commonwealth Court, but, rather, to the United States Court of Appeals for that judicial circuit subsuming Puerto Rico — the First. And Calvert Magruder was totally immune from any political pressure or extra-judicial influence. And Magruder was my hero from law school days. The clarity of his opinions and the flawless artistry of his explanation of them had made the study of the law enjoyable. And, as improbable as it certainly was, I came to know him personally and to play golf with him and his closest personal friend, Dean Erwin Griswold of the Harvard Law School, on a number of occasions as a very young lawyer. (But, that’s another chapter.)

Above all, I did not want to appear before Calvert Magruder unprepared or, even, under-prepared. I wanted to impress him with the depth of my research. I wanted an authoritative definition of that mystery word “edificacione.” One of the great libraries of the world is right in Washington, D.C., and it was there I hoped to find my answer.

The woman at the Library of Congress could not have been nicer. I eventually found her back in the stacks in the Spanish section of the library. It was her domain, and I had been forewarned that there was nothing in the Spanish language that she did not know something about. When I told her what I was looking for and why, she became at once an advocate for the cause. This was not some dull old research project; it was a war between actual people and we were on the same side, together, fighting for the right against the brutal dictator. “Edificacione,” she mused . “I have not heard used that word.” So it was that we found ourselves finally in the humidified, air-conditioned room housing the priceless old Spanish histories and — yes — encyclopedias. Great, large leather folios of bound parchment laboriously compiled with (I guessed) old quills with some sort of pigment and then illuminated (!) with gold outlines. What a sight! Only my friend could touch these, with white-gloved hands. And so it was she who came to the word “edificacione” with its description meticulously set forth in beautiful, legible script by (I guessed) holy monks five hundred years ago. It would be difficult to describe the feeling. Boy, will Magruder love this!

My new best friend read me the description in Spanish and then tried to interpret it. I have forgotten the exact words used, but they added up to what I had hoped for. “Would you say that a fair modern translation might be ‘man-made improvement’?” I asked. “Yes,” she said excitedly, “erect above the ground. That would be perfect.” I was already mentally taking this wonderful lady’s deposition as an expert. There was perhaps no one in the world better qualified to tell the Court what “edificacione” meant. And it meant exactly what I wanted it to mean. The ditches! The dams! The agricultural enterprise providing employment! The unlawful taking!

“This is the nicest morning I’ve ever spent, thanks to you.” I said. “Your courtesy and enthusiasm are beautiful.” “I have never met a lawyer who enjoyed so much what he was doing,” she replied. “I wish every day was so interesting.” And that ended our brief friendship, but left me with memories which will never die.

I hurried back to my Boston office and quickly called Bob Kent on whom I would rely in preparing the pleadings to bring us to victory over the oppressor. “I’ve got it, Bob,” I said. “We’re going to get Don Mario his land back, and we may even wreck the Puerto Rico economy.” “Carlos,” said the professor, “I don’t see how you do it. The average guy would have bowed out of this deal when he first looked at it, but I’ll be damned if I don’t agree with you. Let’s go.”

A flawless petition was prepared for filing in the United States District Court in San Juan (Bob’s idea being to force the government into asking for transfer to the local court if they wanted to). Nothing was left out and we honestly contemplated that they might capitulate rather than risk establishing a disastrous precedent. And now it was time to bring the joyous news to Don Mario and the great Pedro. And it was only fitting that Bob should come with me. He had been with me on my first visit when I needed — or thought I did — a real expert on Constitutional law. And he had formed a sort of bond with Pedro Perrata, who really was a “gas.” (To this day Bob chuckles when I remind him of the Perrata “library,” being far more addicted to the book side of the practice than I.) Besides, I reasoned that when the discussion got down to procedural matters I was going to need all the help I could get. And Kent was all the help anyone could ever ask for!

And so we found ourselves once again in Pedro’s dungeon-like office with Pat Wilson and, this time, Don Mario Mercado himself, in imposing person. This was to be the denouement — I was going to explain our proposed path to victory and Bob would answer the questions on how and when to proceed. And that I did, leaving no detail out, and rolling the word “edificacione” off the tongue in my best Spanish. And I said “Don Mario, we are going to get your cane field back.” There was stunned silence. Pat Wilson asked a couple of sensible procedural questions. Don Mario and Pedro listened awhile and then embarked upon a heated two-person conversation in Spanish which Pat seemed to be able to follow. Then questions followed, but not the kind we expected. Construction of a factory had already been started on the property (the first time I had heard this) — would they have to stop? “Yes, and tear down whatever was there.” The fields had already been destroyed; could damages be claimed? “Yes. Big damages.” (I thought sickly about the priceless ditches and dams!) More Spanish conversation. Might the government retaliate? “Don’t know how.” And so on. Recess for lunch, siesta. Meet again at 3:00 o’clock.

And so the three gringos, Pat, Bob and I, retired to the lovely Ponce Hotel on the mountain-side overlooking the old city and enjoyed a cocktail and a bottle of wine with some tasty little local specialty while Pat tried to fill us in on the conversation between Pedro and Don Mario. Bottom line, Don Mario was concerned that if we won this case the government would be very upset and might decide to retaliate. The Mercado interests stretched into many things in Puerto Rico and they were in rather steady argumentation with the revenue people. They were trying to get the government to help stop Commonwealth Oil from fouling Don Mario’s home. Maybe air service to Ponce would be curtailed, etc., etc., etc. Of course, we had assumed that all of these considerations had been long since discussed and discarded before deciding to retain us in the land-taking case. “Yeah,” said Pat, “but they never thought they could win!”

You guessed it. At 3:30 we met once more. Don Mario had decided that the risk of winning was too great. We had done a very good job and maybe things might change at a later date. Have a nice trip home.

Of the many stories Charles Morin committed to paper, this was the one he most often repeated.

The First Big Whale

In 1962, NASA solicited eleven firms to bid on the design and construction of the Lunar Excursion Module (LEM) – a vehicle that would be capable of making a landing on the moon. While the invitation went to eleven firms, there were two major competitors. One was Martin-Marietta from Georgia, and the other was Grumman Aircraft Engineering, which had been responsible for building most of the military’s fighter aircraft – Wildcats, Hellcats, Tigercats Bearcats and others.

Clearly, Grumman was the better candidate, and they felt they had submitted a far superior bid. But Martin-Marietta was based in Georgia, and the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee (succeeding Saltonstall, in fact) was Richard Russell, an enormously powerful man with a reputation as an autocrat. He was going to see that the award went to Martin-Marietta. Fortuitously, the general counsel of Grumman was Colson’s former Navy boss, Llewelyn Evans, and when Evans saw the bind his company was in, he called Colson.

Evans told Colson, “I have a big problem –we’ve been working on the LEM project for years, we’re by far the best bid, and we’re going to get buried by Russell. I’ve got to get in to see Dick McGuire[1]– can you help me?”

So there were Colson and Morin, two Republicans from Boston representing Grumman in a street fight against an autocratic southern Democrat and his hometown boys, and looking to the Boston Latin Mafia for their silver bullet.

Colson called Dan Lynch at Saltonstall’s office and told him the problem; Lynch invited Colson to bring his clients in, and soon, Evans and his Grumman team spent an hour in Saltonstall’s Senate office educating Lynch about LEM. When Lynch was through learning, he called Dick McGuire, his childhood pal, and asked him to see Evans, and of course, Dick said, “Anytime Danny, bring him right up!” Evans had been trying for a year to get an appointment with McGuire, and there he was five minutes later, sitting in McGuire’s outer office with Dan Lynch after one phone call. Soon, McGuire came out.

“Danny boy, HOWAHYAAHH!!! My Gawd it’s great to see ya,” he said in the archetypal Boston dialect.

Lynch returned McGuire’s hug and tried to introduce him to Evans, but McGuire cut him off – “we’ll get to that in a few minutes – Danny, come on in, I want to talk to you,” and McGuire took Dan Lynch into his office and left Evans in the waiting room alone.

In his office, Maguire said, “Danny, let him sit for a while, let him know how important you are. What can I do for you?” Lynch explained why they were there, and the two of them mapped out a game plan; and then McGuire allowed Lew Evans to join them. He explained to Evans that because of Grumman’s advocacy (i.e., Colson), he would interceded with Senator Russell, provided that certain political contributions were made to certain people.

The contract was awarded to Grumman, and in July of 1969, LEM landed on the moon and Grumman was permanently on the map.

Grumman was an appreciative and loyal client, retaining Colson & Morin annually for years to come; and as a result of their early success with Grumman, Colson & Morin signed on Harrington & Richardson Arms (later H&R Firearms), a Worcester company that was then the biggest rifle manufacturer in the world (they made the M-1 and M-14 rifles for the U. S. Military), and a number of other regional clients.

It couldn’t have happened too soon. Colson and Morin didn’t have a lot of money to establish their firm; and both had growing families and now a double office overhead. Colson borrowed $3,000, and they rented all of their office furnishings, right down to the carpeting (a relatively new scheme introduced to them by Bob Zeltzer, whom they had assisted in the creation of his new business, “Offices Unlimited”).

[1] McGuire was then the treasurer of the Democratic National Committee and one of Kennedy’s people.

The Birth of Gadsby & Hannah

One day in 1956, Senator Saltonstall asked Brad Morse to get him some information from the Department of the Navy. Morse called Llewelyn Evans, the Navy‘s general counsel, and Evans put him in touch with a young lawyer on his staff. Morse later told Morin, “this guy was the brightest kid I ever talked to in the services. He had all the answers, came over to my office, told me exactly what I needed to know. And I was so impressed that I said, ‘how would you like to come to work in the Senate?’”

And soon thereafter, with the Senator’s enthusiastic support, Morse hired the Navy lawyer as Saltonstall’s legislative assistant. His name was Charles W. Colson.

Two years later, Morse left Saltonstall’s office to become deputy administrator of the Veterans Administration. Colson then moved up to become Saltonstall’s administrative assistant.

Colson had a mentor in the office — Dan Lynch, a red-headed Irish Catholic who had been Saltonstall’s legal assistant in Boston when he was Governor (even though Salty was an old Boston Yankee, he was beloved for his common touch with the people, many of whom were, at the time, Irish Catholic immigrants). It was shrewd of Saltonstall to bring a few of the Dan Lynches of the world into his circle. Dan Lynch had gone to Boston Latin with what was called the “Boston Latin School Mafia,” which included a man named Dick McGuire. They were all Democrats except Lynch, who was a “black sheep” in the neighborhood. At that time, Republicans were in control of the Senate, so Saltonstall was a very powerful Senator. Consequently, any time the Democrats wanted anything, they would go through McGuire to Lynch, and he would frequently go to bat for them with his boss.

During this time, Morse, Colson and Morin began to discuss the idea of starting a law firm. Morse had grandiose ideas about opening offices in Boston and Washington and New York, and looking ahead to Atlanta and Denver and Los Angeles and Chicago. The three of them were sitting over Scotch in one of the hotels up on The Hill, talking about the future. Morin said, “Brad, there are such things as bar associations in these states. And you know, it’s a little difficult to have – it’s not like an accounting firm.” Morse looked at Morin and said, “Carlos, details, just details.” Morse’s futuristic vision of a national law firms was indeed prescient.

Their nascent plans soon took an unexpected turn.

On September 10, 1960, the congresswoman from Morse’s district, Edith Nourse Rogers, died of pneumonia less than a week after the primary elections. She had won a special election to Congress after her husband’s death in 1925 and was the first woman elected to Congress from New England. Her death left the Republicans with no candidate on the ballot, which had already been printed for the general election. It was incumbent on the Republican State Committee to select a replacement candidate who would have to run on stickers against the Democrat, William C. Madden.

With Saltonstall’s blessing, Colson went to Massachusetts to meet with the state committee. They had already selected a short list of people, and Morse wasn’t on it; but Colson told the state committee, “There’s only one person that can win this election, and that’s Brad Morse, the senator’s administrative assistant.” Through sheer force of his personality, knowledge and powers of persuasion, Colson made a compelling case and the state committee bought it. The chairman of the committee at the time, Ralph Crossman, exuberant that they had a candidate that Colson assured them could win, said “We’ve got to get stickers printed right away!”

Colson’s reply: “I’ve already done that.”

With a good deal of strategic assistance from Colson, Morse beat Madden by over 20,000 votes with 54%.

At the same time that Morse was campaigning for the House seat, Colson was also running Saltonstall’s re-election race against Thomas J. O’Connor, the Democrat Mayor of Springfield. That year, John Kennedy was on the national ticket running against Nixon, and although O’Connor wouldn’t have been much competition under normal circumstances, the Kennedy aura and the burgeoning Irish Catholic vote in Massachusetts were troublesome to the Saltonstall camp. In fact, the Republican high command in Massachusetts wanted Saltonstall not to run at all – they didn’t want him to end his career with a humiliating defeat.[1] Despite this, Colson talked his boss into running, but told him, “stay out of Massachusetts, I’ll run your campaign.”

One of the first things Colson did was to create a bumper sticker that was an exact copy of the Massachusetts number plate, which read “SALTY IN 60.” With Foster Furcolo as the Democrat Governor (himself having lost narrowly to Salty in 1956), the Registry of Motor Vehicles began threatening to ban the sticker for “public safety” reasons. But this was what Colson was counting on, a Democratic administration playing politics in a shameful manner like this. They caught on, one supposes, and abandoned the plan.

O’Connor began to make a big thing about debating Saltonstall. When the press asked Colson if the Senator would debate, Colson said, “The senator is too busy in Washington representing the people of this commonwealth to engage in debates with this young fellow.” He said, “if the man wants to debate, I’ll debate him on the steps of his own city hall.” O’Connor reluctantly agreed.

Unknown to O’Connor or the press corps, Colson had been the captain of the debating team at Brown. A debate occurred on the steps of Springfield City Hall, and Colson annihilated O’Connor. He revealed O’Connor to be totally unknowledgeable about the federal government and foreign policy. And at the end of the day, Saltonstall beat O’Connor by 330,000 votes while JFK beat Nixon by 550,000 – an amazing victory under the circumstances. Saltonstall was re-elected and at the beginning of 1961, according to his agreement, Colson then left the Senator’s office to join Morin in the fledgling firm of Colson & Morin.

Morin was no spectator to politics himself. In that same campaign year, Morin was raising money for his law school friend Ed Brooke’s campaign for Secretary of State. Two years later, he chaired the finance committee  for Brooke’s campaign for Attorney General, which Brooke won. He  also chaired the campaign  for conservative Republican John McCarthy, who was facing off against the Yankee liberal Republican George Cabot Lodge in the primary race for the U. S. Senate seat that had been vacated by John F. Kennedy in 1960 and was being “kept warm” by Kennedy family friend Benjamin Smith until younger brother Teddy could reach the constitutional age for senator. McCarthy lost his race, and Lodge went on to lose to the 29 year old Edward M. Kennedy, who had beat Speaker John McCormack’s nephew, Edward J. McCormack, in the Democratic primary.[2]

Initially, the firm of Colson & Morin was comprised of a small two-room office in Boston, and in Washington, they had a reception area and two small offices in the new VFW Building on Maryland Avenue. They had a secretary in each office, both of whom they frequently had to pay out of their own pockets. But due in large measure to Colson’s prodigious business development skills, things would quickly improve.

[1] This type of “thinking” by Massachusetts Republican leaders would portend the beginning of a long and relentless slide into virtual obscurity.

[2] It was during this nasty primary campaign that McCormack, himself the scion of a powerful political family, sniped to Kennedy, “If your name was simply Edward Moore instead of Edward Moore Kennedy, your candidacy would be a joke.”

The Beginning of a Beautiful Friendship

In the course of his scrambling, this time on the Charles River golf course, Morin made the acquaintance of Jay Lennon, the secretary and treasurer of Federated Fund of New England, a small mutual fund company based in Weathersfield, Connecticut that was owned by Lennon’s father, James E. Lennon.[1] Lennon was a tall, handsome Irishman, a fabulous salesman with great charm and an even greater tenor voice. Lennon and Morin hit it off well, and soon Morin counted Federated Fund of New England as a corporate client – although at the time, he didn’t know a thing about mutual funds, relatively obscure investments that were regulated by the Investment Company Act of 1940. By 1955, the company had a modest $1.3 million under management and hadn’t grown much since its inception.

In that year, Jack Donahue and Richard Fisher, two young mutual fund salesmen from Pittsburgh, approached Lennon with the idea of buying into the company and growing it aggressively. Both were experienced fund salesmen for national leader King Merritt & Company. (Donahue had an uncanny nose for talent and character, and coaxed his high school friend Fisher away from his position as a Cadillac salesman to join him at King Merritt.) But they were chaffing at the bit to own their own management company.

In the course of their extensive negotiations with the Lennons, Donahue and Fisher were impressed with Lennon’s counsel – who only a short time earlier had admitted that he didn’t know what a mutual fund was, but nonetheless closed the transaction with expertise and class. Donahue and Fisher were joined by King Meritt sales manager Robert Word and his associate, Paul Warren. Another high school classmate, Tom Donnelly, became their legal advisor.

Given Donahue’s eye for talent, once the transaction was closed, he asked Morin to prepare the new company’s SEC registration statement. Thus began a personal and professional relationship that would expand, deepen and thrive until the day of Morin’s death.

The first Federated Investors registration statement, dated March 31, 1956, reflected net assets of $1,181,638, barely more than the $1 million minimum necessary for registration, and expenses for legal services in the amount of $300.

Federated’s early days were tenuous. Problems managing a national sales force that was paid commissions, frequently on income that did not materialize, left Federated dangerously undercapitalized. As broker-dealers in the securities business, they were required to maintain a certain ratio of debt to capital (underwriting debt could not exceed capital by more than 20 times). In the early days, they had difficulty maintaining the ratio. At one point, in order to meet its obligations and maintain the ratio, the executives stopped taking salaries and instead “borrowed” money from the company and gave promissory notes back, so that the notes would show up as assets instead of expenses. After a while, the notes payable to the corporation from its officers were the only “assets” the corporation had – that was its “capital.” Some SEC auditors reviewing their filings took issue with this, and Federated asked Morin to deal with the problem. Morin turned to his old law school companion, Brad Morse.

Morse had returned to his hometown of Lowell after graduating from law school. After serving as a private practice lawyer, business executive, law clerk to Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court, and professor at Boston University School of Law, he won a seat on the Lowell City Council in 1952. In 1953, he was invited by Massachusetts Sen. Leverett Saltonstall to join the staff of the Armed Services Committee (which Saltonstall chaired). He was Saltonstall’s executive secretary and chief assistant in 1955, when Morin called.

Morin explained the problem. Morse called Sinclair Armstrong, who was then the SEC chairman, and asked that he see Morin. At that meeting, Morin laid out the issue, and Armstrong and his people listened politely, but in the end, they explained that he needed to go to the regional administrator – where he should have gone in the first place.

While this problem simmered, another fire was smoldering to life. From its earliest days, Federated was involved in a program of selling investment plans to enlisted soldiers on military bases around the country (as Donahue had done in his very first experiences in the business). They had worked out an automatic payroll deduction plan where any enlisted man could have $20 a month taken from his pay and invested in this mutual fund program. Some of the Army brass didn’t like it and began creating political problems through the Pentagon, and Federated asked Morin to help them with that problem as well.

It was time for Morin to visit his old Army boss, General Hickey. He took the Federated people down to Atlanta to get some “advice” from the General. In the course of the meeting, Hickey told Morin’s clients about his childhood missions on Roxbury Hill, and informed them that his battlefield companions, Denny Delaney and Phil Kendrick, just happened to be regional commissioner of the Bureau of Internal Revenue, and regional administrator of the SEC, respectively.

Would General Hickey be so kind as to arrange a meeting with Regional Administrator Kendrick? Hickey picked up the phone, called Kendrick and asked him to see Chuck Morin.

Morin was very soon sitting in front of Kendrick. The first thing he asked Morin was, “how well do you know Tom Hickey?” Morin spent fifteen minutes recounting their years in the war together.

Kendrick said, “Why didn’t you come to see me in the first place instead of going to see those guys in Washington?”

Morin said, “You know about that?” And Kendrick assured him that he had heard all about the Washington meeting.

Morin explained the whole problem with Federated’s “capital” consisting of promissory notes from its officers. Kendrick look at Morin and said, “I’ll tell you what – I’m going to ask you a question and if the answer is ‘yes,’ you’re alright, and I want you to give me an honest answer.”

Morin agreed.

Kendrick asked, “Are those notes good? Are they going to be repaid?”

Morin swallowed and said “yes.”

Kendrick said, “Fine, now get out of here. But not until we finish talking about Tom Hickey.”

And Morin stayed with Kendrick for another hour or so, swapping tales about their adventures with Gen. Tom Hickey, the child and the man.

So Morin’s meeting with his old General solved two problems at once. But there would be more skirmishes with the SEC down the line.

__________

[1] New Horizons – The Story of Federated Investors, Jeffrey Rodengen (Write Stuff Enterprises, 2006), p. 18.

Charles Morin, CIA

In 1951, as his law practice was beginning to bloom and Betty was pregnant with their first child, Charlie received a telephone call from an old Harvard classmate, Doug Pernie. Pernie worked for the CIA, was aware of Morin’s stint in the South Pacific and wanted Charlie to run the Philippine desk of the Central Intelligence Agency. Never one to say no to his country, he moved his then-pregnant wife to Alexandria, Virginia and became a “G-man.”    The principal mission at the time was to rid the Philippines of the growing threat of communism, embodied in the burgeoning rebel movement of Hukbong Magpapalaya ng Bayan (“the Huks”). The Huks were gaining power under the increasingly corrupt administration of President Elpidio Quirino, and the United States considered it in their best interests to quash this rebellion and install a new President who was friendly to American interests.

Under the leadership of the staunch anti-communist psywar specialist, Colonel Edward Lansdale, the C.I.A. recruited Ramon Magsaysay, Quirino’s Defense Secretary, to run for President.[1] Morin and fellow agents Elger Ellis and Joseph Smith devised Magsaysay’s campaign plan, which was funded by the C.I.A. and American corporate interests in the Philippines.[2] Morin’s participation was from C.I.A. offices in Washington, so it would be unlikely that he was involved in some of the more bizarre efforts of Lansdale’s campaign.[3] Rather, Morin was involved with the more conventional political campaign strategies employed in electing the popular Magsaysay, including such things as writing and recording campaign jingles which were then relentlessly played through car-mounted loudspeakers as the vehicles moved through the countryside. “The CIA ran Magsaysay’s campaign as if the agency were the Republican or Democratic National Committee and he were its man for the White House.”[4]

Besides the jingles (which he could still sing in his 80’s) Morin spoke little of the details of this part of his life. Whatever his involvement, the CIA’s mission was accomplished, Magsaysay was elected President, and in 1953, Morin brought his wife, now the mother of two children, back to Boston where he resumed his legal career.

By the mid 1950’s, Morin was back to building his law practice in Boston, struggling like many other lawyers in the city after the war. One of his clients at the time was Francis D. Burke, a young law school graduate who was beginning a real estate development business. Frank knew that, like himself, Charlie was scrambling to pay his bills, but nevertheless he observed that Charlie always “looked like he had a million dollars in his pocket and was on his way to pick up a second million.”

[1] “The U.S. and the Philippines: In Our Image,” PBS series produced by Andrew Pearson and Eric Neudel, 1989.

[2] Philippines Center for Investigative Journalism, “With a Little Help From Our (U.S.) Friends,” 2004. (http://www.pcij.org/imag/2004Elections/Campaign/consultants2.html)

[3] According to one account, “In an area thought to be harboring a team of Huk guerrillas, Lansdale’s ambushers snatched a peasant one night, punctured his neck with two holes, vampire-fashion, hung the body by the ankles to drain it of blood, then put the corpse back on the trail. When the peasants found the toothmarked bloodless corpse, the entire Huk unit moved away. The novelty of these games amused Lansdale, who slyly passed them on as combat anecdotes, enchanting his CIA superiors…. Lansdale’s experiments were given top priority.” The Marcos Dynasty, Sterling Seagrave (New York: Harper & Row, 1988), p. 145.

[4] Waltzing With a Dictator: The Marcoses and the Making of American Policy, Raymond Bonner (New York: Times Books, 1987)

“Country Lawyer”

After graduating cum laude in June of 1948, Morin was sworn in to the Massachusetts Bar on October 14th and joined his father and brothers at Morin & Morin, housed in a small office located at 44 School Street in the shadow of the Old City Hall. As Morin later recounted, “it was a family firm, and in those days, you took what came in the door. You became an expert in a hurry. So I tried cases in the tax court and got to be a good tax lawyer, maybe one of the best in the city of Boston.”

At the outset of his practice, he was lecturing on estate and gift taxation at B.U. One of his students was William Schwartz, who became Dean of the law school some thirty years later when Charles’ youngest son was enrolled there. Morin regarded Schwartz as “the smartest lawyer I ever met,” and confided to his son that Schwartz “had been gracious enough to wait until the class was over to tell me where I made my mistakes.”

When the law school was moved from Ashburton Place to the main campus on Commonwealth Avenue, Morin stopped lecturing and “got serious about the practice of law.”

According to Morin, his specialty was “anything that came in the door,” and he meant it literally. In one instance, he was hired by a Portuguese potato farmer from Fall River to defend him against a prosecution by the I.R.S. for tax evasion. At their initial meeting, Morin had driven to the farmer’s home, and upon reaching the front door, observed that the door was nailed shut. The farmer tapped on the window and motioned him to the back door into the kitchen, where the farmer explained that in the Portuguese community the only people who come to the front door are salesmen and tax collectors.

So the story went, in cleaning out the ash bin at the bottom of his chimney, the farmer had discovered a tin box containing a large sum of cash. He had dutifully reported the cash as income on his tax return (a fact that earned him Morin’s immediate respect, almost reverence). In response, the Service sought to audit him for prior years under the theory that this “sudden windfall” was an attempt to avoid taxes on prior years’ income.

At the trial, Morin employed the “cash hoard” defense, in which the taxpayer must demonstrate by clear and convincing evidence that he did, indeed, discover a cash hoard. With his client on the witness stand, he produced the dusty old ash bin from a paper bag (creating, with intent, a thick gray cloud of dust in the courtroom) and sought to have the farmer identify it so that it would be admitted into evidence.

The tax court judge, Marian Herron, loudly objected. “I’m not taking that filthy old thing back to Washington with me!” she yelled.

Morin was insistent. “Your honor, you have no choice, it’s evidence!”

Judge Herron threatened Morin with contempt of court. Morin’s reply: “If you refuse to accept this into evidence, you cannot find me in as much contempt as I will have for this court!”

The judge relented, as she was compelled to do. At the end of the session, as Morin was leaving the courthouse via a back hallway, Judge Herron entered the corridor from her chambers, dusty paper bag in hand.

“Mr. Morin,” the federal tax court judge said to him as they walked along, “has anyone ever told you you look like Clark Gable?”

Months following the trial, Judge Herron ruled in his client’s favor.

Law School in Boston

Upon returning to Boston, Charles sought admission to Harvard Law School. Dean Warren Seavey, who Morin described as “particularly pompous,” was unimpressed with his meager captain’s rank and academic mediocrity and suggested that he repeat his senior year and strive for improvement. But that didn’t appeal to Morin, who knew perfectly well the reason for his mediocre grades and, unlike many of his contemporaries, did not look upon admission to Harvard Law School as the sine qua non of accomplishment.

Morin instead entered Boston University Law School under the GI Bill. There he joined a class that included other future luminaries: Edward Hennessey (Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court); F. Bradford Morse (Massachusetts Congressman and United Nations Ambassador), and Edward W. Brooke, the first African American to be elected to statewide office in Massachusetts (Attorney General) and the first African American in the country to be elected to the United States Senate. Also in his class was Robert Kent, a brilliant man who had also been in Morin’s Harvard class, although they hadn’t met. Kent later became a revered professor of Constitutional Law and Civil Procedure at Boston University and Cornell.

Morin and roommate Morse worked and played hard. They excelled academically, covering the three-year curriculum in two, with a week off between semesters. They were admitted to the Law Review where they served in various editorial roles, and passed the bar exam before they graduated. All the while, they threw nightly beer parties in their apartment. Years later Morin would advise his youngest son, Peter, who was about to enter B. U. Law, to go out for “one beer” at the end of every study night. After his first semester, Peter asked his father if it was true that he and his friends had limited themselves to one beer. “Well, maybe two,” his father allowed.

When not in class, Morin and his pals spent time eye-witnessing the practice of law: the school was then located at Pemberton Square in the shadow of the Commonwealth’s trial and appellate courts. The classmates often took front row seats in the courtrooms to watch the best trial and appellate lawyers perform before judge or jury. Another day they hustled across the street to the gallery of the House Chamber to watch Thomas P. O’Neill become the first Democrat Speaker of the Massachusetts House. Although Morin worked in the Republican trenches, he and O’Neil would become good friends, and they would do each other many favors over the next fifty years (for a short while, Morin employed Tip’s eldest son, Tommy). Many years from that day, after both had toiled from opposite sides of the aisle in Washington, O’Neill saluted Morin on his 70th birthday with a letter saying, “Old pal, may you live as long as you want…”

Morin spent some of his law school time honing his golf game at Charles River Country Club, where his father was a member. He used this time shrewdly, insinuating himself into games with Federal Circuit Judge Calvin Magruder or Harvard Law School Dean Erwin Griswold, both pre-eminent legal minds in the country. During a round with Griswold one day, Griswold confided that his wife, Harriet had suffered a disabling stroke several years earlier.

“In the first year of her illness,” he told Charles, “her medical expenses exceeded my total gross income. I mentioned this over lunch one day to Randolph Paul [then the General Counsel of the U. S. Treasury Department-ed.]. Paul was astonished, and soon the tax deduction for medical expenses became law. Ironically, because of the one percent deductible feature [referring to the provision that only expenses exceeding one percent of adjusted gross income could be deducted-ed.], my own increase in earning power and the stablization of Harriet’s condition, I never was able to benefit from the deduction — not one dollar! And I hope you never will suffer the same fate.”

As it turned out, many years later, Morin’s wife, Betty, would have a stroke, and in light of the stratospheric costs of medical care in this day, Griswold’s wishes for Morin’s good fortune were not realized. Ironically, Mrs. Griswold would go on to outlive her husband, who died in 1994 at the age of 90.

Golf became a vehicle for Morin to expand his social circle and clientele at the same time. It was at Charles River during the 1940’s that Morin first met Charlie Shriner, one of three sons of the French Shriner Shoe family. From inception, they were kindred spirits, and they became fast friends for decades until Shriner’s untimely death in 1980. Morin served as counsel to the French Shriner Shoe Company, and their respective youngest sons have remained fast friends through their adulthood as well.

While he and Morse shared an apartment on Joy Street, Morse dragged Charlie along one night to a beer party at an apartment on Pinckney Street rented by his acquaintance, Elizabeth Donnelly, and several of her fellow Smith College alumnae. Charlie told his sons fifty years later, “It was love at first sight.”

“Betty” Donnelly was a Worcester girl, the daughter of James Corcoran Donnelly, a Superior Court judge. And she was quite the hell-raiser herself. She came from a strict Catholic family, ridden by an overbearing mother against whom she rebelled. Her move to Boston following graduation marked her full emancipation from the grasp of her mother, which he relished, as demonstrated by at least one Notice to Quit for “repeated disturbances and annoyances to the other tenants.”mom eviction

Between her exquisite looks and her joie de vivre, Charles knew he’d found his soulmate. He would tell his friends over fifty years later, “The moment I saw her I knew we were destined to be together.” And so, in the midst of his law studies and golf, Charlie squired Betty around town in his Ford two-seater, over to the South End to the jazz jam sessions at Southland Restaurant, or out to Seiler’s Ten Acres in Framingham, to take in the Duke Ellington Orchestra, Tommy Dorsey, Gene Krupa, Ella Fitzgerald, Cab Calloway, Fats Waller, and whoever else on the jazz circuit was rolling through town.

He also took her to Sunday dinners at his parents’ new home in the Chestnut Hill section of Brookline. During these dinners, Betty didn’t always impress her future in-laws. For one thing, she was not much of a dessert fan. At her very first introductory dinner with George and Margaret, after their maid/cook “Reeva” delivered dinner to the table, Betty was dismayed to see her plate occupied by two small potatoes, a smattering of green beans, and one tiny slice of pot roast. What had Charlie not prepared her for? After dispatching this snack, she thought to ask for seconds, but demurred. She soon discovered why the meals were so meager.

After the light repast had been cleared, Reeva placed a strawberry shortcake the size of a hatbox in front of George. George raised the cake knife and looked at her. “Elizabeth?”

“Oh, no thank you,” she said. “I’m not much of a dessert person.”

An awkward silence followed as Reeva slunk from the dining room.

Charlie’s father had an enormous sweet tooth. Reeva’s prize creation was her strawberry shortcake. They had asked her to make it especially for Betty’s first visit.

She had managed to insult her host and his cook in one sentence.

Captain Morin and WWII

After graduating from Harvard in 1943 with three C’s and a D, Morin joined the Army, O.C.S. He was sent to Fort Sill in May of that year, and in July he joined the 42nd Division at Camp Gruber, Oklahoma. Two months later, he was transferred to the 10th Corps, Artillery to serve as an aide to General Thomas Hickey, and they shipped out to New Guinea, then Leyte (Philippines) from July, 1944 to January, 1945. He followed Hickey to the 31st Division and served in Morotai and Mindanao until his discharge in June, 1946. During all of their time together, Colonel Hickey became like a father to Morin. He had grown up in the Roxbury section of Boston, where as a youth he’d led “charges” to drive the British off Roxbury Hill. His two childhood lieutenants in those exercises, Denny Delaney and Phil Kendrick, would be asked by Hickey to help Morin out years later.

Buried deep in Morin’s personal papers was an old manila folder full of documents from the Philippine days. Copies of American and Japanese psychological warfare fliers, propaganda from the Department of Defense press office, a field map of Mindanao with troop movements marked in black, carbon copies of the official documents that marked the surrender of the Japanese, Morin’s enlistment and muster orders. A card designating Morin’s berth # on the ship carrying them home (“Gen Hickey’s Qtrs,” noted in pencil).

Japanese PsyOps “Ace”
Japanese PsyOps “Ace”

And an envelope with his name and Arlington, VA address, set out in a meticulous cursive hand. Inside the envelope were several letters from a young Filipino woman, written on lined yellow paper, and a photograph.

LeyteThe photo depicted the woman standing outside of a doorless hutch, presumably somewhere in the Leyte countryside. Charles sat on the stoop of the doorway, looking somewhat sad – like he didn’t want to be photographed. A tall, shirtless

Ace message
Ace message

American soldier grinned from the doorway, next to a small Filipino male.

The letters were lengthy and newsy, written with perfect English grammar in that precise script. The young lady expressed her effusive admiration and affection for Charles and his fellow soldiers, and her gratitude “for all you have done for my brother and I.” Was it simply that the US troops had rescued them from the clutches of Communism? Or something else? Had Charles and his companion done something for these two siblings? How did they become acquainted? The mysteries endure.

Charles kept the letters and photo, and never mentioned them to his sons.

Early Days in Weston, MA

[Ed. note: Thanks to some late-breaking new information from cousin Michele (Morin) Shoemaker, certain corrections and additions have been added to the original text

Charles Morin was the youngest of three sons of George Albert Morin and Margaret Sullivan. George Morin was the son of a French-Canadian immigrant, a taciturn and inscrutable man who spoke little, but by example, taught them discipline, loyalty and probity. For a time, George served as a civil service attorney in the Bureau of Internal Revenue and drafted significant portions of the Tax Code revisions that were adopted in 1934. He subsequently moved to Boston and opened one of the city’s first law practices specializing in federal taxation. His success allowed him to acquire a substantial country estate in Weston, where he raised his three sons, George, Phillip and Charles. During Charles’s childhood, despite his favorable circumstances as a “rich kid,” his closest childhood friendship was not with others of wealth or social status, but with the nearby son of a struggling local handyman – with whom he remained in contact throughout his life, corresponding with him well into his seventies.

Charles was exceptionally precocious. He completed the Weston High School curriculum in three years at the age of 16, also as a skilled football player and concert violinist. He applied and was accepted to Harvard for the following fall, but his mother disapproved of such a young boy going to college. His father took him up to Exeter Academy where he interviewed with “Principal” Lewis Perry. During the interview, Principal Perry informed young Morin that if he came to Exeter he would have to take Latin.

“Why,” the young man asked.

“Because you will not be admitted to Harvard without it,” the elder Perry answered.

To that Charles responded, “I don’t want to take Latin and they accepted me this year without it, why wouldn’t they accept me next year?”

The Headmaster regarded the young man keenly, Morin returning the gaze with a whimsical look.

Principal Perry acknowledged that he didn’t need to take Latin, and the following fall Charles was off for his post-graduate year at Exeter.

There, he excelled at his studies, football and tennis for sports, and classical violin. He graduated from Exeter with Honors and entered Harvard the following fall of 1939.

Harvard brought out the mischief in Charlie Morin, although precisely how it was expressed remains a closed secret. He corresponded with several of his classmates well into their retirement years, but they all declined my invitation to reminisce (or wished they could but were past remembering). They all assured this author, however, that he was a “hell-raiser,” and they said it with marvel and affection. His sons saw plenty of evidence of that truth in the later years.

Morin’s relationships with his siblings are a matter of some mystery. He never spoke of his brothers to his sons. Decades later, a few frayed threads of the discord would emerge. First among them, as Phillip’s wife had told her daughter, mother Margaret assiduously encouraged her sons to compete against each other. This might not have been of too much consequence, but for the fact that the oldest brother, George, contracted Multiple Sclerosis. To provide for his care, their father established three trusts for the sons, with all of the income from each going to George’s medical care until he passed away. While Charles and Phillip certainly had no problem with this, it caused some friction between their wives after George and Margaret had passed. Since they could not fight over money, the object of their disputes turned to the personal property of the Estate, and thus ensued the age-old bickering of in-laws over who got what. Being one of the co-executors (with George), Charles devised an elegant solution: All of the personal property of the Estate was placed in storage, indefinitely. In fact, it was not until the 1990’s that the grandchildren were invited to rummage through the goods. After brother George passed away, his children called Charles, looking to continue the gravy train. Charles shut the door to filial duty for good.

Another source of friction between Phillip and his little brother (whom Phillip called “Peanut”): during the late 1940’s and early 1950’s, when the three brothers and their father practiced law together, some latent hostility arose over the claim that Charles had been “poaching” Phillip’s clients. Whether Phillip and Charles ever spoke about it is unknown, but Phillip did tell his wife.

Fortuitously, it would turn out that in 1995, Charles’ youngest son Peter would move to Scituate, Massachusetts, where Phillip raised his family in an old country farmhouse. At the time, Phillip was beginning to fail mentally, and his eldest son, David (a pediatrician) and his wife were caring for him. David would become the doctor to Peter’s two children; David and his younger brother Christopher would join Peter and Charles Jr. for barbecues at Peter’s home, and the family rift would be mended. Neither David nor Christopher had any better insight into the rift between the two brothers.
If Charles Morin held any animosity toward his siblings, he never spoke about it to anyone but his wife. He was inscrutable in that way. Toward the final decade of Charles’ life, Phillip would enter the picture one last time.

______